Supreme court on Friday upheld the Kerala High Court order holding former CPI(M) MLA M V Jayarajan guilty of contempt of court for using “abusive and pejorative” language to criticise a judgement but reduced the six months jail term awarded to him to four weeks.
“Judges expect, nay invite, an informed and genuine discussion or criticism of judgments, but to incite a relatively illiterate audience against the Judiciary, is not to be ignored,” a bench comprising justices Vikramajit Sen and C Nagappan said.
The bench affirmed the high court order to incarcerate Jayarajan for contempt of court, saying the right of free speech certainly does not extend to “inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders.”
The apex court said the CPI(M) leader, being an advocate and also a former legislator, was aware that the Constitution was premised on the separation of powers between executive, legislature and the judiciary to perform their duties within the constitutional framework.
“He is fully aware that while he has the right of freedom of speech of expression, this postulates a temperate and reasoned criticism and not a vitriolic, slanderous or abusive one; this right of free speech certainly does not extend to inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders,” the bench said.
The apex court in its 16-page order said “having perused the translations of his speech, we are left in no manner of doubt that he intended to lower the dignity of Court, to obstruct and impede its functioning and not merely to criticize its pronouncement which was not to his liking.”
The bench observed that since Jayarajan has shown no remorse or contrition for his conduct, his conduct leaves him unquestionably guilty of the offence of contempt of courts, calling for him to be punished for his illegal act.